Two days ago I drove up to church in the afternoon, after everyone was gone, and happened along 3 young (5th-6th grade) boys riding bikes and scooters. As I got out of my car, one of them said, "Is this place abandoned?"
I was surprised by the question since we have a very active congregation and busy campus. The office is open everyday. We host NA/AA meetings 6 nights a week. We have a Korean congregation and the English congregation that meet for Bible studies and worship. We have youth group, outreach, and trustees who are active regularly. And, we have 4-8 homeless that sleep on the campus every night. It's a busy place. At least in my mind. All of our buildings get used (for more than just storage!) and there are easily over 500 people that are on campus throughout any given week (good for a congregation of 150 with 120 active on Sundays).
But I suppose none of that really matters when you are a pre-teen boy on his scooter at the church in the afternoons when rarely is anyone to be found. I told the boys that the buildings were not abandoned and talked about when we have youth group and worship and that they would be welcome. I invited them to the Monday night kids group and told them where to enter.
I said goodbye and went to the office to get what I needed. When I came out, they were still there and as I got in the car I heard one tell the other, "just ask her." I paused and looked back and one meekly approached and asked, "Do our parents have to sign us in?" Nope. You can just come! But we do want them to know where you are!
We smiled and said goodbye and I told them I hoped to see them again soon.
I do hope they'll come and check out the program. I also hope the program is good that night and keeps them wanting to come back. It's always hard with a small children's/youth program to be convinced that non-churched kids will see it as valuable even though there are only a dozen other kids there.